Freudian Dream Tools

by Head for Dreams

According to Freud, dreams always have a manifest and latent content. The manifest content is what the dream seems to be saying. It is often bizarre and nonsensical. The latent content is what the dream is really trying to say. Dreams give us a look into our unconscious.

Freud believes that we can chip through the dream’s manifest content to reveal the underlying significance and its latent by utilising the technique of “free association”. Using this technique, you start with one dream symbol and then follow with what automatically comes to your mind first. You continue in this manner and see where it leads.

To further help in interpreting the cryptic images of our dreams, Freud classified the images into the following five processes:


This occurs when the desire for one thing or person is symbolised by something or someone else.


This happens when the dreamer propels their own desires and wants onto another person.


This is characterised when the dreamer’s repressed urges or suppressed desires are acted out metaphorically.


This is the process in which the dreamer hides their feelings or urges by contracting it or underplaying it into a brief dream image or event. Thus the meaning of this dream imagery may not be apparent or obvious.


This is regarded as the final stage of dream-work. The dreaming mind organises an incoherent dream into one that is more comprehensible and logical. This is also known as secondary revision.

Freud is particularly preoccupied with sexual content in dreams. He believes that sex is the root cause of what occurs in your dreams. According to Freud, every long slender or elongated object (i.e. knife, cigar, gun, etc.) represents the phallus, while any cavity or receptacle (bowl, cave, tunnel, etc) denotes the female genitalia.


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